Friday, February 20, 2009

25 Random Things

Rules:  Once you have been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you.  At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged.  You have to tag the person who tagged you.  If I tagged you, it is because I think you'd have some interesting things to share.

(To do this, go to "Notes" under applications in Facebook, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

25. I always drag my feet in following a trend.  Sometimes it is because I'm lazy.  Sometimes it just takes that long for me to get used to the look of certain fashions or the sound of new music.  I picked up Survivor and American Idol late in their first seasons.  I still wear pointy-toed shoes.  And it's taken me weeks upon weeks after receiving my first 25 Things About Me tag before writing my own.

24. People usually think I look younger than I really am.  At the age of 18 and again at 22, I was offered a 12 and under child's discount.  The first time I was vaguely offended and declined.  The second time I eagerly accepted the fraudulent discount.  However, my appearance seems to be catching up with and surpassing my age at last.  Last week, I met someone who was surprised to learn my real age and then told me that it must be because I "dress kind of old."  Maybe it's the pointy-toed shoes.  I'm going shopping tomorrow.

23.  I've been mistaken as my husband's daughter on two separate occasions.  However, it is unclear if it is because I looked so young or because he looked so old....

22.  I've been mistaken as a Filipino helper more times than I can count.  It usually happen during pick up at school.  I think it is because I always wear jeans, t-shirts, and flip flops, weather permitting.  One time I went to the Immigration Office with our helper, Josie.  The guy behind the desk thought I was the helper and Josie was the employer.  That pretty much made Josie's week.

21.  I am also regularly mistaken for being Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese - usually by people of that respective ethnicity.  If I were an actress, I could make millions as the Asian female response to Lou Diamond Phillips, playing any Asian ethnic role. 

20.  Supposedly I am 100% Chinese, but I have suspicions that my grandmother or great-grandmother had a little somethin-somethin on the side.  How else can you explain my supposedly 100% Chinese father's naturally curly hair and hairy legs, and the fact that he is always mistaken for an Italian when he travels alone in Europe?

19.  I love reading.  No matter how late it is, I have to read at least half an hour in bed, or I won't be able to fall asleep.  I've read all of my favorite books at least 10 times.  If I find a great book, I can rip through it in less than 24 hours.  Then, upon finishing the last page of the book, I will immediately flip back to the first page and start all over again at a slower pace.  And I derive an equal amount of pleasure with that second reading.

18.  I pretty much enjoy all genres of books, but I particularly love romance novels.  I prefer discreet covers, but I am not ashamed to buy a bodice-ripper cover.  However, I have never read a book with Fabio on the cover.

17.  I also love chick flicks.  Give me a teeny bopper flick over an Oscar contender drama any day.  High School Musical 3 was one of my favorite movies last year.  Thank God I have kids to take with me!

16.  At one point while we were living in California, we simultaneously owned four cars for just the two of us.  Our neighbors seriously thought Michael worked at a car dealership.  At that time, I accidentally hit every single one of those cars while trying to park or pull out of the garage with one of the other cars.  I was pregnant during many of those accidents and I still argue that it was the hormones that screwed with my normally excellent driving skills.

15. One of the things I miss most in Hong Kong is driving.  Especially singing while driving.  When I go back to the States, the first thing I do is strap the kids n the car, turn on the radio full blast, and go joy-riding for at least an hour with no particular destination in mind.

14.  I also miss Barnes & Noble and Target.  I could spend hours in those stores, happily browsing around.  Part of their allure is the fact that they both usually have Starbucks retail outlets in them.

13.  I am completely addicted to Starbucks.  And it's not even the caffeine.  For years, I visited Starbucks to order a grande soy steamer, which is just warm soy milk.  Acknowledging it was ridiculous to pay over $3.00 per cup, I tried bringing in a carton of soy milk to work and heating it up in the microwave.  But it just wasn't the same, and I admitted defeat after 2 weeks of misery.  Of course I am not addicted to my grande skim latte.  But there are much worse vices one could have, so I don't fight it.

12.  As a junior in college, I got one of three A+ awarded in an economics class willed with both undergrad and grad students.  I actually think I got that grade because of one specific office hour visit with the professor when I wore a sundress with a loose, low cut bodice.  At one point during the meeting, I bent over to get a pencil out of my backpack and looked up to find him staring down my cleavage (I had one back then before the three kids).  I swear it wasn't planned!  But in retrospect, I should have worn that dress around campus a lot more.  My grade point average would have thanked me for it!

11.  I always wanted to be a writer, but I am too lazy to actually finish anything.  Once every could of weeks is about as frequent as I can get with my blog, and I don't even want to say how many entries I've started but never gotten around to finishing.  In fact, I'm doubling this Note as a blog entry.  That's how lazy I am.

10.  As a child, I once told my dad that I wanted to be a lawyer when I grew up so I could wear suits to work.  My dad then suggested that Century 21 real estate agens also wore suits, so maybe I should add that to my short list as well.  I ended up working in product management at Internet companies with casual dress codes.  The only times I've had to wear suits were for job interviews.  Now I am a Hong Kong tai tai/Filipino helper who only wears jeans, t-shirts, and flip flops.

9. I used to believe that everyone had one special talent, that if only they could discover and nurture it, they could become one of the acknowledged "bests" in their field.  I lived in terror that my life would pass me by without discovering my talent, or even worse, that mine would be something like "best garbage collector in the world."

8.  I only have the wherewithal to take on one self-improvement project at a time  Last year, I started tennis and am now completely addicted.  This year. I'd like to begin guitar lessons.  Somewhere deep down and unacknowledged, I think I have a secret fantasy of becoming a rock star.  This must be my form of a mid-life crisis.

7.  I have a secret desire to lose enough weight to be disparagingly called a waif and have random busybodies on the street tell me to eat a Big Mac.  However, I've finally come to terms with the fact that I love food way to much for this to ever happen.  If they ever brought back those diet pills with the tapeworms, I would seriously consider them for at least a minute.

6.  The first time I ever described myself as "fat" was in the 6th grade.  Some genius public health program required that everyone in class be publicly weight.  I did not actually think I was "fat" at 80 lbs, but all the other girls were lamenting their weight, so I did too.  When our daughter was born, I promised myself that I would teach her to have a positive body image.  Her early nicknames, Chubby Too in utero and Chunky Butt as a toddler, are probably indicators that I need to work a little harder at that.

5. Michael and my parents are family friends, and we've known each other since I was at least 9 years old.  We started dating during my sophomore year in college.  Despite our jokes, there is no proof that money, goods, or other financial incentives were ever offered by either set of parents for us to begin dating.

4. I used to always give Michael a box of much needed socks and boxers for Christmas, and he would always give me a completely unnecessary but much anticipated new cell phone. I think I got the better end of that deal.

3.  On a regular basis, I try to remind myself of all the things I love about and am grateful for in Michael.  He is solid and dependable.  He's a great father who can make the kids giggle at the drop of a hat, yet still be able to scare them straight with one stern look.  Not least on the list is the fact that he lets me read in bed with the light on, even if he's trying to go to sleep, and he keeps the light dimmed when he gets ready in the morning so I can sleep in.  Now that is true love.

2. The last time I kissed Guinness goodbye in front of his friends, he didn't say anything but looked so uncomfortable that I made a mental note to not do it again.  However, he is still fine with holding my hand in public, and I treasure the feel of his warm little hand in mind.

1. I honestly believe that a hug from your kids every day will keep the doctor away.  And every kiss will add an additional day to your life.  Luckily Guinness, Cayman, and Ellington are willing (at least at home) to give me so many hugs and kisses (fish kisses, piggy kisses, butterfly kisses, Eskimo kisses....) that I just might live forever.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Someone shoot that fiddler on our roof

They say that traditions are a valuable way to keep kids grounded and help them feel like an integral part of society.  I say traditions are just a way to force parents to keep doing things that originally might have seemed like good ideas, but maybe not so much anymore.  

Like Christmas presents from Santa?  Three gifts seemed so cute when Guinness was 1 and the gifts consisted of a stuffed animal, a sippy cup, and a ball.  Still reasonable when Guinness was 1, Cayman was 6 months old, and the gifts were two stuffed animals, two sippy cups (you can never have too many!) and two other assorted, small toys.  It is absolutely ridiculous now that the kids are 8, 6, and 4.  Hamster cages, Wii games, Legos and six other assorted, relatively expensive toys from Santa, plus one each from Mom and Dad, plus one from each of them to each other.  Our Christmas went from a tranquil Norman Rockwell scene to a Jackson Pollack explosion of strewn gift wrapping paper.  But the kids all know that Santa always gives three gifts each. It's a tradition.

I  just finished baking 80 heart-shaped sugar cookies to staple to the kids' Valentine's Day cards.  It's an early night for me to finish by 11:00 pm.  I must be getting good at this, because last year I was still baking after midnight.  Fortunately, Ellington's teacher specifically asked that we not send in candies or cookies as some kids have food allergies and cannot be depended upon to self-regulate.  Next year, I'll be baking 120 cookies, so I'll probably be back to my midnight baking sprees.

Why?  Tradition, of course.  I blame Hallmark for turning this into a kids' holiday of exchanging Valentines to classmates they don't necessarily love or even like.  Last year, I intercepted a card Cayman wrote for a frenemy that actually said "I hat [sic] you" and had to explain why that might not be appropriate, especially on a Valentine's Day card.  I continue to blame Martha Stewart for convincing me that store bought treats are tacky.  And I blame Williams-Sonoma for tempting me with adorable but time- and labor-intensive decorating ideas.

Of course, I blame myself for being such a sucker.  A couple years ago, I decided to go part-time after the Christmas holidays.  Valentine's Day was the first holiday I could throw myself into for the kids.  The night before, I sat in the family room with reams of red and white tissue paper and spools of ribbon around me, putting together candy bombs for Guinness and Cayman to hand out at school.  (Ellington was still in daycare at the time and the choking hazards would definitely not have been appreciated by anyone.)  Michael came home, took one look, and just asked "Why?"  I replied, "Isn't this why I went part-time?  To do more for the kids?"  He thought about it for a minute, said "Actually, yes."  Then went off to play computer games while I continued to sort, gather and tie.  I didn't mind at the time.  I only had to make 30 total and I was doing it in front of American Idol anyway.

And that started the Valentine's Day tradition of homemade cards and treats that I just can't get myself out of now.  The kids came home from school today asking when I was going to make the Valentine's cookies.  "Do I really have to?" I whined.  Yes, I whined.  The response was pure bafflement from them.  Of course Mommy has to make cookies to go with the cards.  It's a tradition.

At least the kids were all old enough to make their own cards this year, though quality control was an issue.  

Ellington started out by stuffing blank paper into envelopes.  Luckily I intercepted them and explained why it might be nice for him to draw a picture on the paper and sign his name before stuffing them into the envelopes.  He did eventually make a couple more creative cards.  One of them had a bunch of little pom poms with googly eyes glued on them.  I was so tempted to write in "I only have eyes for you", but decided to let him keep his creative integrity.

Guinness spent too much time on the first half of the cards, with long messages written in secret codes inside. When we ran out of envelopes, he wrapped them in colored tissue paper.  Of course, these were for the boys in his class.  The girls' cards consisted of sloppily folded pink construction paper with "Happy Valentine's Day.  Love, Guinness" scrawled in pencil.  That's it.  I supposed I should be glad for his innocence.  I am sure I will rue the day his priorities get reversed and the girls get all the time and attention.

Cayman's cards were elaborate pieces of artwork, with cut out hearts and crunched up tissue paper flowers.  Then at the end, she counted her cards and realized that she had forgotten someone.  "There are 20 kids in my class, but I only made 19.  I think I'm missing a girl.  Alex, Alexandra, Jaik, Samara....  Who did I miss?  Who did I miss?"  "Hmmm...could it be a silly girl named Cayman?"  Silence.  "Oh."

One more holiday tradition over and done with.  St. Patrick's Day is coming up and the thought passed through my mind that I could do some fun stuff with Guinness.  The beer, I mean.  And the kid too, I guess.  I heard there is a great recipe for Guinness flavored ice cream....  But do I really want to start another tradition that I will be stuck with for the foreseeable future?  Nah!  Thank God we are not Irish!